The prenatal care color line and Latina migrant motherhood


Drawing from ethnographic research with Latin American migrant mothers seeking prenatal care at a safety net clinic in southern Connecticut, I describe the racial dynamics of a medical hierarchy that situates White providers and nurses above Black and Brown medical assistants and patients, terming this the prenatal care color line. I characterize three segments of the prenatal care color line: through (1) onerous enrollment in prenatal care support that strips rights from migrant mothers; (2) differences in racialized embodiment that harden essentialist and stereotyped notions surrounding Latinx reproduction, making the experience of pregnancy and birth a process of race‐making; and (3) obstetric racism manifest through both denying or delaying critical medical care to Latinx pregnant patients while also overmedicalizing their uncomplicated births. I argue that the presence of the prenatal care color line—in my study clinic as in other safety net clinics—permits the harsher racialization of Latinx birthers.